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Target Your Most Likely Voice Over
Prospects With Your 'Go To' Specialties

By Daryl Smith

Voice Actor

Dan, Great article! (Struggling to Make A Living With Voice Overs? Discover Clients' Needs, by Dan Hurst.)

I worked in radio sales for over 25 years. When you're in the voice over business, you are in fact your own salesperson. You alone are responsible for letting others know what you have to offer, with the possible exception of your agent, assuming that you have one.

In retrospect, I realize that early on in my sales career, I simply approached anyone who would give me five minutes of their time. The theory was that the more doors you walked into every day, the better your chances for making a sale.

Theory aside, eventually you tend to figure out that not everyone will buy from you, no matter how good the product is.

There has to be a NEED for what you're offering.


In my case, I was selling radio advertising, 30- and 60-second puffs of air.

Believe it or not, not everyone needs to advertise ... at least, not at that particular moment. A prospective client may not NEED your product or services right now, but two months down the road when the need comes up, they might just be glad they met you.

Many times I would be out cold-calling on new prospective clients, only to have them say, "I've got more business than I can handle right now. I don't NEED to advertise."

My response would be, "That's great! I'm happy for you! I'll just leave my card and I'll check back."


There was no point in pushing the issue, even if you felt that there WAS in fact a need, but the client just gave you the brush off because they didn't want to be sold.

The truth is, nobody likes to be sold. I've always ascribed to the "soft sell" approach, and it's always served me well.

Somebody once told me, "What I like about you is you're persistent, but you're not pushy."

I, of course, took that as a compliment. It's always been my belief that you don't have to cram advertising (or whatever it is you're selling) down someone's throat.

A good product will sell itself if it's properly presented ... at the right time.


For example, I was working for a radio station whose format was country music.

As is often the case, car dealers represented the bulk of the station's revenue. I approached a woman who ran a Saab/Volvo dealership on the edge of the station's signal.

Although she was very nice to me, she promptly dismissed the NEED for my services by saying "People who drive Saabs and Volvos don't listen to country music."

For the first time in my career, I was nearly speechless! She might as well have said that people of any given ethnicity don't drink beer.


Either way, I wasn't buying it.

I politely thanked her for her time and left my card. I kept in touch with her, stopping by just to say hello about every other month.

Finally, on my 20th visit, I walked in the door with exactly the right package deal at her exact time of need and closed a sale!

My boss almost fell off his chair when I placed the order on his desk. Apparently, everyone who had ever approached this dealership in the past had gotten nowhere.

When he asked me how I did it, I replied, "Pleasant persistence lowers resistance."


From that day forward, I had that exact slogan on the cork board in my office.

A good salesperson learns to target the most likely prospects and spend the bulk of his time on them, not wasting his time on those less likely to buy.

It's no different with voice over, which is why most would agree that it's important to focus on only one or two niches within the broader spectrum of the business.

Specializing in one or two areas of the business and being known as the go-to person for that type of work will actually increase your chances of getting work. You don't have to be all things to all people.

There is work out there if you're willing to focus your efforts in a particular direction.

A surgeon earns more than your average doctor because he specializes in one area of expertise.
Daryl Smith began his on-air radio career in 1988 at WORC in Worcester MA, shortly after graduating from Connecticut School of Broadcasting. He later joined the sales team at the radio station, and moved on to several other stations throughout the MA/NH area doing sales, on-air and production work. Currently sales manager at a local station in Fitchburg, MA, he is also a copy writer, voice actor, and host of a Saturday morning live on-air show.


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Comments (2)
Ken Budka
4/19/2013 at 10:15 AM
Great article Daryl, thank you for sharing your wisdom. I've spent many years in outside sales and understand the importance of persistence. It's very rare that we'll pick up the phone or send out an email and land a job or client. Very few people are willing to go back the 20th time though, which is separates the bulk of the herd.

Consistency and focus on the client needs is key. The amazing thing is, once you have that Saab/Volvo dealer under your belt, all the effort of making it happen fade away, and now you have a long-term client.

It's tough to make a living immediately in any sales position, but it's critical to make those investments of time and relationship building. I've found it helpful to look at this way - if the Saab account yielded a $1000 voiceover job, you got paid $50 for every visit, every time she said no. That's pretty decent money for making sales calls. It makes it easier to pick up the phone and reach out in the face of rejection to know your call to closing ratio.
Tim Davisson
4/19/2013 at 6:22 AM
Daryl's 100% correct. Loved the article. I started on-air at age 17, and later spent nearly 30 years in radio ad sales. Now in VO and web video sales, Daryl's tips transfer to any area of media sales, including VO.
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